Few people realize how much Jesus actually valued friendship. Before he went to the cross, Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is an intimate glimpse into the heart of Jesus. As the nails were piercing through his hands and his feet, no doubt, Jesus thought about you and me, he thought about the world he was saving, he thought about those who would believe in him after… but as he hung on the cross, I bet you that Jesus thought about Peter, James and John–his closest disciples, his best friends.
Jesus values friendship. He went to the cross for it.
Can you imagine how heart-wrenching it was for Jesus to learn that Peter would deny him three times? Three and a half years of ‘doing life’ with his disciples, and now one of the ones closest to him, the disciple who confessed that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the Living God–now, Peter, would go on to deny he ever even knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times. That’s a burned bridge if you ever saw one. Most people would consider that a definite end to a relationship.
But for Jesus, there is no end.
After Jesus had risen from the dead, the angels said to the women who came to the tomb, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” The very first thing Jesus was determined to do after his resurrection was show Peter how willing He was to rebuild the bridge with him, i.e. to restore their relationship. That’s how much Jesus values relationship.
Are there any burned bridges in your life?
When it comes to marriage, we’ll often say, “Take counseling. Take classes. Do everything you can. Just don’t get a divorce.” And the same thing when it comes to our relationship with God, “Repent. Pray. Turn around. Just don’t forsake the Lord.” We know it is our responsibility to keep those bridges intact.
Yet, for some reason, when it comes to friendships… it’s okay to burn bridges. “This person offended me. Burn that bridge. This person spoke behind my back. Burn that bridge. This person betrayed me! Really burn that bridge.”
We will spend a whole season of our lives building connection with someone, sharing our deepest secrets, and doing life together. Yet, when something happens that creates a riff between the two of us, we decide to burn the bridge and think we can just press “Reset” with someone new.
Friendships were not meant to last for only a season.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Friendships go way beyond convenience. It’s the decision to say “Yes!” a thousand times over a period of decades that builds wealth in a relationship. It creates depth.
We need to fight for relationships. Initiate. If your friend is in another place and/or season of their lives, call them. Be there for them. Place value on connection. Invest.
Don’t compartmentalize friendships (i.e. strictly work or ministry). Do life together. Eat together. Prophesy over each other. Get drunk in the Spirit together. Have fun. Make heart connections. Be there when a friend needs help moving to a new home, not just when he’s leading a conference.
1 Samuel 18:1-3 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul… Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
When people read about Jonathan and David, many wish to be like David. He was the anointed king over Israel and the man after God’s own heart. Yet, what few people realize is that Jonathan laid down his life for his friend. There isn’t much closer to being Christ-like than that. So many times, David would have died if it wasn’t for Jonathan covering for him.
Jonathan could have been king. He had every right to fight for the kingdom. He was groomed from an early age to be Saul’s heir to the throne. Yet because of his love for David, Jonathan was willing to give up his “promotion” to fully support David in his destiny.
True relationship breaks competition. “Your breakthrough is my breakthrough. Your promotion is my promotion.” It is like marriage. When a man and woman join together in marriage, they become one flesh. They are no longer two, but one. That means, whatever my wife inherits becomes my inheritance. Whatever my husband gains, I gain. So when my spouse steps into his or her destiny, so do I. It would be stupid of me not to back up my spouse 100% to step into his or her full destiny.
This could be the key to revival. One of the last words of Jesus to his disciples were, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.“ In other words, loving one another is our testimony to the world. If the church actually demonstrated loving one another, we would have the greatest harvest on the earth. No longer would nonbelievers say of the church, “They’re just a bunch of people who disagree with each other and don’t get along with anyone,” but rather, “Wow, they really love one another. I want some of that!” The world would be helplessly enraptured and captured by the love they see displayed in the Church.
It starts with building relationships. Restoring broken bridges. Making heart connections. Finding friends you can run with.
And then… Run hard, run fast, run fun, run free with them. Through every season of life.
This post was inspired by and based on Chad Dedmon’s sermon titled “Relationships” given last night at Bethel’s Friday Night Service (September 27, 2014).